Sometimes It’s Better to Receive than to Give
I have seen over and over again that having a team of people to help with the hard work of healing can mean the difference between a healthy future and years of suffering.
When I see people resist asking for or accepting help, I understand because I struggle with it too, but it breaks my heart.
With that in mind, I want to share a short story about how I accepted help – a lot of help – recently and how it is changing my life.
I Needed to Learn to Accept Help Again
If you’ve read my book, Everyday Healing, you already know how accepting help was essential to my healing process. After years of denying that I needed it, asking for and accepting help made it possible for me to heal.
Having someone to go to doctor’s appointments with me, visit me regularly to offer an non-judgmental ear or even help pay for extra help around the house gave me both the confidence and the logistical support I needed to take on the big diet and lifestyle changes that ultimately allowed me to recover.
How easily we forget. More specifically – how easily I forget!
I’m completely healthy now, but my new big challenge is to successfully spread my message of empowerment and connection to everyone with a health condition. Everyday Healing came out last July. A couple dozen friends and family told me they wanted to help promote the book. “Just tell me when to pull the trigger,” they said.
Did I immediately take them up on those offers to help spread the word? No. I did book talks and wrote some online PR pieces. But, I had a whole tribe of people who were offering to help get the word out and I wasn’t letting them.
A 50-50 Challenge
That changed in early January. First I accepted help from a brilliant friend of mine, Cathleen Miller. She gave me a complementary 30-minute coaching session in which she challenged me to aim for a 50-50 balance, where I would receive as much as I give and ask for as much as I offer, specifically in the coming week.
I laughed out loud. I’m a mom; the giving-receiving ratio is not going to be in my favor for the foreseeable future. I’m also a health coach who spends most of my time helping other people address major life challenges. As a care-taker by nature and nurture; I have to consciously turn off an obnoxious impulse to help almost every person I meet.
Most importantly, deep down, I still don’t really believe that people will stick around if they are helping me as much as I am helping them. We could spend a long time on the analyst’s couch, but suffice to say, somewhere along the road I got the message that not only is it better to give than to receive, but you really shouldn’t receive much at all. It’s weak and people don’t like you if you do.
That’s a problem. It makes it hard to ask for help and can leave me isolated.
A Successful Experiment
So, with Cathleen’s loving encouragement, I dove into asking for help the following week. I finally ran the book launch campaign that I had been meaning to do for months. I had to ask for help from over 250 people. Keep in mind, about 25 people had actually offered to help me. I jumped in and asked for help from ten times that many people.
It was terrifying. I felt sick to my stomach off and on for two weeks. But, in spite of being afraid that people would be annoyed, think me too “sales-y,” or otherwise think poorly of me, I asked for help in two big ways. First, I invited about 50 online marketing colleagues to help promote the book. Ten said “yes,” which was a great start.
Then, I sent a series of three emails to 200 family and friends, asking them and reminding them twice, not only to buy my book on January 19 on Amazon, but also to forward the email to their network and ask them to buy the book as well. It was way outside my comfort zone to be asking so many people for so much.
You know what? Some people did get a bit upset with me. Two people wrote back expressing that they would prefer not get such emails. I received many more emails, however; from people who said how happy they were to help and how inspired they were by my reaching out in that way. I was in touch with people I hadn’t connected with in months or years.
In the end – hundreds more people got my book that day and it shot to #1 on Amazon for titles related to Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia and #5 in Women’s Health. The campaign was a huge success and I got to be in touch with many old friends and make a connection with new colleagues as a result.
It was extremely uncomfortable to put myself out there in that way, but I would not have that success under my belt, nor would I have re-connected with all those people if I hadn’t asked for and accepted all that help.
It was an incredible experience and I never could have or would have done it if Cathleen hadn’t challenged me to notice how much love, caring and assistance there is out there when I open myself up to it. (You can learn more about Cathleen here.)
What about you? What project are you working on now – with regards to your healing or something else? How could you give people an opportunity to help – and learn and grow with you?